How to Recycle Aerosol Cans

I was driving down the road and lo and behold, a gaggle of aerosol cans could be seen by the roadside. There were 5 of them, all cans of whipped cream, their tops off, strewn to indicate someone wanted to get them quickly out of their possession. It was less than a week since Halloween so I deduced they were a discard from a Halloween reveler who didn’t want to be caught with evidence of whipped-up foul play.

Roadside aerosols, Photo © Liesl Clark

I pulled over and threw the sticky mess into the back of my car. What was I to do now with these cans? Do they go in recycling, in the garbage, or is there another alternative for aerosol cans?

Aerosol Cans Are Made of Metal and Can Be Thrown in Scrap Metal, Photo © Liesl Clark

Most people don’t realize that in many areas you can recycle aerosol cans. They typically don’t go in your regular recycling but can go in your local scrap metal bin. Metal has value. Check with your regional government recycling website to see where they recommend you put aerosol cans. But there’s one hitch to this process: You need to make sure all the aerosols, i.e. the gas is fully expended. So, use up what’s inside that spray can of yours and then make extra sure you’ve let all the compressed gas go. Here’s a You Tube video to show you how to fully expend your aerosols, if you’re a purist. This way the pent up gas won’t be a hazard to workers at waste facilities. Word has it that many an aerosol can, when included with garbage and pressed down in a crusher, have exploded in the face of workers around garbage trucks and transfer stations. To ensure their safety, please expend all of the contents of your aerosol cans.

Expend All Gas in Aerosol Cans, Photo © Liesl Clark

If you have a partially used can of something, like spray paint or even shaving cream, you’ll need to take it to your local household hazardous waste facility. They will expend the aerosols for you to make sure this potentially dangerous can of goods doesn’t wreak havoc. You might consider Freecycling your can of stuff if it’s only partially used. Chances are one of your neighbors will enjoy taking your aerosol stuffs off your hands and use up the contents of the can for you. In my case, I had the help of my dog and my gourmand chickens.

Find Someone Who Could Use Up The Contents of Your Aerosol Can, Photo © Liesl Clark

Gourmand Chickens Love Whipped Cream, Photo © Liesl Clark

If you want to be really cool you could reuse your can, like the artists at Can Love do, and create amazing works of art from all the parts of your beautiful aerosol can. No matter how you look at it, that aerosol can has no reason to end up in a landfill or incinerator. The stuff it’s made of is a resource to someone.

Oh, and you might try to look into alternatives to aerosols and those plastic-and-metal canisters in the first place, like this super delicious post about whipped cream less plastic.

Do you have any aerosol can adventures to share with us? Please do.

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